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Tacoless Tuesday

Posted on Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Dave!What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you on a Tuesday?

Getting your taco fixin's together for Taco Tuesday and finding out that the cats put the taco shell box back into the cupboard EMPTY so you have no idea that you're out of taco shells and Taco Tuesday is CANCELED!

Empty Taco Shell Box!

Taco salad it is then.

sigh

   

Those Darn Cats and a Farewell to Disney

Posted on Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Dave!Last night at a wonderful early birthday dinner with friends, I had told them how proud I was that I finally managed to get Jake and Jenny trained to not jump on the kitchen counters. Yes, Jake still wanders into the kitchen from time to time but, thanks to sticky mats, his days of climbing over my kitchen counters was over.

And then... less than an hour after getting back to the hotel... I get a motion alert on my iPhone that there's movement in the kitchen. A quick check of the security cameras and, sure enough...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

I rewound the footage to see what made Jake suddenly revolt, and was surprised to see that it was actually Jenny who was the instigator. You can see her beady little eyes reflecting in the dark on the refrigerator return before she makes a spectacular leap across to the kitchen counter...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

Jake hopped up a minute later...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

I thought Jenny had hopped back down, but nope... she was over digging in the sink...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

Eventually I started talking to them from the speaker on the security camera, which was all kinds of confusing for them as they started looking around trying to find out where I was. Jake seemed to think I was on the ceiling, but Jenny seemed to figure it out eventually...

Darn Cats!

Darn Cats!

What's weird is that A) The motion alarm did go off, which usually scares them away, so apparently they are immune to that now, and B) My yelling at them to get off the counters through the camera speaker was equally ineffective. Eventually I rang the doorbell, which finally did the trick.

Guess I need to figure out how to tie the motion detectors to the doorbell when I get home.

It also looks like I will be disinfecting my kitchen counters when I get home.

Blargh.

   
I was pretty much Disney-ed out half-way through yesterday. But the hotel kicks me out in an hour... my ride to the airport isn't here until 3:30... and I have another day left on my park ticket... so I guess I'm going back to Disneyland again today. Oh well. There are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Still... vacation goals achieved...

  • Ate lunch at Earl of Sandwich daily.
  • Ate a Dole Whip Float from the Tiki Juice Bar in Adventureland.
  • Ate "The Grey Stuff" and Gaston's Brew at The Red Rose Taverne restaurant.
  • Ate beignets at Jazz Kitchen Express in Downtown Disney.
  • Didn't kill anybody.
  • Rode all my favorite attractions (except Pirates and Tower, which were closed).

Until next time, Disneyland.

   

Bullet Sunday 497

Posted on Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Dave!Pull out your Mickey Mouse ears, because a Very Special Disney-centric Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• I'm Going to Disneyland. Now that Disneyland has no "off-season" and is hellishly busy all-year-long, there's really only one piece of advice I can offer: Don't make your Disney vacation all about standing in lines. Stay multiple days... divide up the attractions you want to see so you're only standing in line for them part of every day... then get the hell out of the parks to have an actual vacation. Go see what else L.A. has to offer (which is a lot)... or just hang around the pool at your hotel. Spending the whole day in a massive crowd at Disneyland is just guaranteeing that you'll need a vacation from your vacation.

   
• Princess Vader. I honestly can't decide whether this is the coolest thing ever, or just pain wrong...

Darth Vader Dress

All I know is that Disney's marketing of Star Wars is way off the charts.

   
• Reimagineering. Earlier this week I brought up the new Star Wars Land additions coming to both Disney parks. This is on top of Disney World getting a Pandora: The World of AVATAR "land" in Animal Kingdom. New stuff at the Disney parks is always great... but I can't help but wonder when rides like Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion will get an upgrade. Surely there's a way of remaining true to the original concept while enhancing the attractions with today's technology? Otherwise I have to wonder how much longer they can last. The parks (particularly at Disneyland) do not have infinite space to expand, so the worry is that even "E-Ticket" attractions will eventually be eliminated in favor of something fresh to keep the crowds coming.

   
• Grey Stuff. Yesterday I mentioned that I checked-off one of my life goals at Disneyland... eating Grey Stuff Gâteau (which they spell "Gateâu") and Gaston's Brew. Nobody seems to know what that meant. Well... "Grey Stuff" is something served to Belle in Beauty and the Beast...

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

This is what the real-life version looks like from The Red Rose Taverne in Disneyland's Fantasyland (a temporary restaurant re-dress in celebration of the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie coming in March...

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

It's a white chocolate mousse that's been tinted grey then heaped on a small red velvet cake that has raspberry in it...

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

It comes piled on a shortbread cookie that seems to have a rose drawn on it?

Grey Stuff from Disneyland

It's not too bad. The cookie is dense and bland rather than buttery and flakey... and the whole ordeal is too sweet for me... but it's totally edible. Gaston's Brew, on the other hand, is excellent. It's apple-mango juice that's topped with a passion fruit foam "head." Something I'm going to have to try and make at home.

   
• Magical Morning. One of the benefits of buying your ticket to Disneyland online is that you get a free "Magic Morning" on tickets for three days or more. "Magic Morning" means that you get into the park an hour before opening. In my case, that meant 9:00am instead of 10:00am. This used to be available only to registered hotel guests at one of the Disney hotel properties... but now anybody can get it. The problem being that now anybody can get it. Which means the park gets just as crowded just as quickly as it would without magic morning. Sure you might get one or two rides in at a reduced wait time, but it's hardly the deal it used to be. I got to ride Space Mountain in 20 minutes instead of 60... but after that the lines were right back to normal. Bummer. I'd be pretty pissed if I were a hotel guest counting on this perk.

   
• The Sign. I could spend hours just wandering around Disneyland looking at the beautiful signage that's displayed everywhere. It's not as fun as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it certainly beats standing in lines all day. My favorite signs are in Adventureland. So many beautifully-carved pieces...

Signage from Disneyland

Signage from Disneyland

But it's not just the extravagant larger signs that are given such detail. Even small signs... like numbers on a door... are beautifully themed for the area they occupy...

Signage from Disneyland

Even throw-away signs from an exit queue are painstakingly designed...

Signage from Disneyland

And every exterior sign is beautifully-crafted, of course...

Signage from Disneyland

So... next time you're at one of the Disney theme parks, stop for a minute and look for the signs. They're an attraction all on their own.

   
And now? Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go...

   

Superior Market

Posted on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Dave!Living in the wilds of Reneckistan as I do, there are certain pros and cons that one has to accept. In the "pros" column are things like "no traffic" and "breathable air." In the "cons" list are things like "NO TRADER JOE'S FOR YOU!"

I love awesome grocery stores. Stores like Wegman's... Mariano's... and (more logical for my area) Trader Joe's. Mostly because awesome grocery stores have a terrific selection of interesting vegetarian foods that your typical grocery chain does not. In the case of Trader Joe's, it's things like their amazing black bean and jack cheese burrito... or their frozen pizzas... or their frozen tamales... or their veggie chili... or their soy chorizo... or their veggie spring rolls... or their veggie wraps... or their toasted almond slivers... or their... well, you get the picture.

A considerably better selection of great foods I can eat than what I have access to now.

But, alas, the nearest Trader Joe's is 2-1/2 hours away.

Which is why I regularly send store requests like this one to corporate...

I'm tired of having to drive 2-1/2 hours to shop at Trader Joe's! Is the reason you don't have a store in Wenatchee because our locations have too much parking available?

I suppose I should explain about the parking thing.

Trader Joe's are smaller stores. They carry a fraction of the products that a "regular" store does. Because of this, they are often built in smaller spaces. And, given their popularity, there's never enough parking spots.

Never.

At least for the half-dozen stores I've been to.

Anyway...

I was just sitting here watching the latest episode of The Talk, craving something from Trader Joe's, and felt you should feel my pain.

You're welcome.

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Categories: Food 2017Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Compositional Reality

Posted on Monday, April 24th, 2017

Dave!Did you know that yet another issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine will be debuting this month (hopefully)?

Well, it's true!

And while I don't want to give any of the awesome stories away, I thought I'd take a minute to share one of the art pieces I put together last night.

My favorite way of creating art to accompany a story is to draw, paint, or photograph something of my very own. But there are times that it's just not possible for what I'm trying to communicate. For one particular story in our next issue, I wanted to create a Bon Appetit magazine-style page. My vision was to have a kind of fried fish/prawn hybrid sitting on a plate in a Japanese restaurant... perhaps with a dollop of wasabi on the side. Being a vegetarian who hates seafood, the idea of putting fish parts in my deep-fat fryer filled me with horror, so I decided the best way to get what I wanted was to buy stock photos and assemble them into what I was envisioning.

And so I searched Adobe Stock for the pieces I needed...

Stock Photos

Then downloaded preview images into Photoshop so I could see if they would fit together well...

Rough Comp

Then, once I was happy with all the parts and pieces I found, I'd purchase the full-res photos and get to work. I had to combine three pieces of fried fish/prawns into one... add it to a plate with some wasabi and chopsticks... then paint in shadows to bring it all together and make it look "real-ish"...

Rough Comp

And voilà! A fish-prawn thing is served!

To find out why it's served... you'll have to download the April issue of Thrice Fiction, coming soon!

   

Bullet Sunday 504

Posted on Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Dave!Time to celebrate another week down the toilet, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• DC! I have made no secret of my love of all things coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe... and my deep loathing of all things coming out of the DC Cinematic Universe. This fan video puts the reason why in vivid relief...

100% accurate. DC has a habit of taking fun, exciting, uplifting hero stories and degrading them to joyless sequences of death and destruction that are a chore to watch. Why in the hell they don't put the team in charge of their TV shows in charge of their movies I will never know. At least they know how to make the characters fun to watch. Justice League, a movie I should be on pins and needles to see, is something I honestly don't give a shit about. Not when we've got Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther coming up. Not to mention Infinity War, which promises to blow the doors off of any super-hero film yet seen.

   
• Piper! I never got to see Finding Dory in theaters, but bought the Blue-Ray in 3D so I could watch it at home. Never had time to explore the "extras" on the disc, but today discovered it has a Pixar Short called Piper included...

That snippet is just the tip of the iceberg. Such a wonderfully adorable bit of animation! Well worth tracking down if you haven't seen it yet.

   
• Tarzan! The novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs are some of the most imaginative and entertaining reads I've ever experienced. That he started writing them in 1912 just goes to show how incredible a storyteller he was. Between John Carter of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes (and a slew of others), he has a wealth of material just begging to be adapted into movies.

And they have been.

Unfortunately, they've mostly sucked. John Carter was a total shit-fest that abandoned everything that made the character so compelling. And Tarzan? In the books he is an extremely intelligent character who speaks dozens of languages and is as accomplished in civilization as Lord Greystoke as he is in the jungle as Tarzan. But what do we get? Every time Tarzan comes to the screen, he's a grunting ignoramus that barely knows how to speak because he's written more as an animal than a man. For any Tarzan fan it's a massive disappointment, and I'd all but given up hope that we'd ever get an adaptation of The Lord of The Jungle that wasn't crap. Enter The Legend of Tarzan...

Now, this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. It's not even a flawless adaptation of Tarzan. But holy crap... it's the closest thing I've yet seen, and I loved it. All that plus it has Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz in it! And gone are the days of Tarzan being a stupid savage! Hell, they even made an effort for Jane to be more than a damsel in perpetual distress! Sure the CGI, which actually started out quite good, ultimately degrades to a level that was below-par, but it didn't destroy how much I enjoyed watching the story unfold. So... ignore the critics. If you like Tarzan... the REAL Tarzan... this is a film that's definitely worth a look!

   
• TRADER JOE'S CONSUMER ALERT!
"Have you got any more Black Bean and Jack Cheese burritos? I took the last two."
"I think that's all we got. Have you tried the Super Burrito? It's the same except it's made with quinoa and sweet potatoes. Really good."
"Okay, I'll try it, thanks!"

And so tonight I decided to have a late lunch /slash/ early dinner and give it a try. I take a bite and it's not bad... light on the sweet potato and heavy on the quinoa... but it's got a nice spicy bite to it. And then... AND THEN... I take another bite and there's something crunchy/leafy/weird. Is that spinach, I wonder? I dig the wrapper out of the garbage and... IT'S NOT SPINACH... IT'S FUCKING KALE!

Trader Joe's Super Burrito HAS FUCKING KALE IN IT!!!!!

TRADER JOE'S TRICKED ME INTO EATING KALE AND NOW I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO DIE!!!

KALE!!!!!!! GAH!!!!

Needless to say, I am not in a good place right now, and I appreciate everybody's understanding as I attempt to mentally and physically recover from this tragedy. I will soon be setting up a GoFundMe page in an effort to help with the massive costs involved in getting me healthy again. WAAAAAHHH!!!! WHO PUTS KALE IN A BURRITO?!? WHY, LORD? WHYYYYYYY?!?.

   
• Let's Play! Alrighty then... time once again to play the "Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...

JUDGE ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING OF A MINOR.

Oh yeah. Big fucking surprise... he's not only Tea Party and Ku Klux Klan supporter, but also a former Trump campaign chair! Because disgusting shit like this is only bad when Democrats are doing it, I guess? Republicans do this kind of heinous shit and "their base" elects them to the school board!

BONUS ROUND!
"Will the piece of shit turn out to be a godless liberal... or will they be from the party of family values and moral righteousness?"...

GOVERNOR RESIGNS AMID SEX SCANDAL.

Hmmm... let me guess...

   
• Bullshit! And lastly, an article that's well-worth a read, regardless of religious affiliation is here: America Isn’t Growing Hostile Towards Christians, It’s Growing Hostile Towards Religious Bullies. Because, look... so long as you can walk into a post office and buy a stamp with Jesus on it for Christmas... I've had just about enough of this bullshit notion that Christians are some kind of persecuted class and there's a war on Christian ideology. As somebody who is not a Christian and sees just how pervasive the religion is in dominating so many aspects of American culture, it's embarrassing that people are trying to keep this one alive. And yet FOX "News" is undoubtedly already warming up new ideas to make "The War on Christmas" become something out of nothing again. Because what plays better than victimization on TV?

   
Time to reload...

   

Fake Jerky Time!

Posted on Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Dave!Back when I went vegetarian on Earth Day in 1988... some 29 years ago... it was not a terribly difficult decision. The girl I was dating was a vegetarian. I didn't like much meat anyway (outside of burgers, bacon, and pepperoni pizza), and there were some great "fake meats" hitting the market that I was able to substitute with little effort.

But there are times...

Back when we had a Burger King in town, I'd drive by the place while smelling the flame-cooked burgers filling the air, and give serious consideration to abandoning vegetarianism. Or I'd go to a breakfast buffet and see a big ol' plate of bacon and be transfixed... and be trying to resist shoving my face into the plate. Pepperoni was the worst. Pepperoni pizza. REAL pepperoni crisps up on the edges and forms little cups filled with meat oil that makes them about the most delicious thing you'll ever put in your mouth. And, unlike veggie burgers and veggie bacon that's "okay"... there is no acceptable pepperoni substitute that tastes anywhere close to the original.

If I ever fall off the vegetarian bandwagon, I can pretty much guarantee it will be over a pepperoni pizza.

What it won't be over is jerky.

Because there are some very good jerky substitutes out there, and I decided to take a look at some of the most highly-rated...

Fake Meat Jerky
   
Photos taken from FakeMeats.com

   
Lightlife Meatless Smart Jerky: Original
Hands-down my favorite of the bunch. It's got a fantastic texture that retains a bit of the toughness that "real" jerky has, but won't rip your teeth out. The shreds are compressed into square-isa pieces, which also makes them easy to eat. Unlike so many fake jerky products, the flavor is subtle. They aren't trying to blast through your tastebuds to conceal the fact that you're not eating meat. This is a mild jerky that counts on subtle notes of a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce for flavor instead of piling on the heat to obliterate it. If it weren't for the 480mg sodium per ounce, you could eat it all day! (though high sodium is typical for these products).
TASTE: ★★★★★ • TEXTURE: ★★★★★

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Maple Bacon
Despite my not tasting much maple or bacon flavor in the maple bacon variety, this is a very good brand of jerky. Perhaps a touch sweeter than I'd like, but nothing horrible. I do get a slight soy flavor lingering on my palette, but not offensively so... it's certainly better that than an over-flavored jerky! The texture is pleasing... not too tough, not too soft. Pieces are randomly shaped into strips that are meant to resemble actual jerky, so if you're transitioning, this might be a good brand to start. Sodium is a typical 480mg per ounce.
TASTE: ★★★★☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★★☆

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co.: Smoked Black Pepper
Despite being the same brand as above, the texture is softer/spongier for some reason, and I'm not getting as great a "jerky experience." It's like the jerky is soggy or something. The smoke and black pepper elements are there, as promised, but most of what I'm tasting here is salt. It's only 20mg more than the Maple Bacon (500mg vs. 480mg) but after eating it for a while, that's all I can taste. Would be a better jerky if they could toughen up the texture (like Maple Bacon) and take out salt while adding a touch more black pepper.
TASTE: ★★★☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

May Wah Vegan Beef Jerky
This Chinese jerky has an interesting texture that's more "shredded" than other brands. I like it... but it also gets stuck in my teeth. The flavor is... odd... not really barbecue or smoke, though I get a hint of something similar. It's got a definite mustard element floating in there... and it's going in more of a sweet than spicy direction. Overall I don't dislike it... it's definitely different and tasty... it just isn't hitting my "jerky button" the way I'd like.
TASTE: ★★☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★★☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Mild
Stonewall's was my first vegetarian jerky. I had never tasted anything like it, and was buying it by the case at my local health food store. Then... after a year or so... something changed with the flavors. The "Original Mild" ended up with a horribly bitter flavor that left a nasty soy aftertaste. And while the texture is weird and spongy, I always ignored it because I liked the flavor so much. Now, after a decade of avoiding the stuff, I decided to try it again. Same thing. Same spongy texture. Same bitter flavor and soy aftertaste.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Original Wild
Same as above, except they pile on peppers and spices to add some heat. The heat does quash the bitter notes a bit, but I really don't like the end result.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Stonewall's Jerquee: Peppy Pepperoni
Back in the day, I thought the "pepperoni" flavor was pretty good. But now it's added to the same bitterness that has taken over the rest of the Stonewall's line and, even worse, has been made scorching spicy hot. So hot that any "pepperoni" notes are obliterated. If I wanted this flavor, I'd just drink a smokey hot sauce directly from the bottle.
TASTE: ☆☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ★★☆☆☆

Primal Strips: Texas BBQ
This stuff is tough, like real jerky, but they inexplicably soak it in sauce, so it ends up being more like a tough strip of meat in marinade than actual jerky. Your teeth will slide over the wet before you can get a bite, and even then you may not be able to bite all the way through on the first chomp. The flavor is not bad at all... it's definitely a sweet barbecue variety flavor... but once you get past the sugary-sweetness it's a little bland, having very little smoke elements.
TASTE: ★☆☆☆☆ • TEXTURE: ☆☆☆☆☆

   
That's it for this round. As I discover more great vegetarian jerky options, I'll update the list.

And if you're looking to purchase any of these products, you can get them all via one-stop-shopping from the good people at FakeMeats.com!

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Categories: Food 2017Click To It: Permalink  1 Comment: Click To Add Yours!  

   

National French Fry Day

Posted on Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Dave!Pizza is probably my favorite food.

But not always.

Sometimes... sometimes... it's fried potatoes. When they're served with Dutch mayonnaise. They don't even have to be really great fries (like the amazing kind you get in the Netherlands or the kind I fry myself). So long as they have Dutch mayo, I'm good. So to celebrate National French Fry Day, I grabbed my Dutch mayo and went to the local drive-in for a big bag of lunch...

My French Fries

Delicious!

Tied with Chocolate Pudding Day (June 26th) as one of my favorite holidays!

Hope you got fried today!

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National Mac & Cheese Day

Posted on Friday, July 14th, 2017

Dave!I don't know who the mad genius was who put National French Fry Day and National Mac & Cheese Day next to each other... but kudos to that. Meal planning has been dead-simple these two days. And delicious.

Dinner was courtesy of "The World's Best Mac & Cheese" by Beecher's...

Beecher's Mac & Cheese

I don't know that it's "The World's Best"... but, if it's not, it's darn close.

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